Numerous studies has found that runners who supplement their training with high-intensity interval workouts get fitter faster than those who don’t. One such study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, found that runners who did two or three sessions of high intensity interval training (HIIT) per week for eight weeks improved their VO2 max – a measure of aerobic fitness – by four percent.
What is HIIT?
HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training is a type of interval training that alternates between short bursts of high-intensity exercises and periods of rest or low-intensity exercises. The HIIT formula involves alternating between intense bursts of activity and recovery periods. The intensity of the activity should be 80-95% of your maximum heart rate, while the recovery periods should be at 40-50% of your maximum heart rate.
However, HIIT workouts can vary greatly in terms of intensity and duration. For example, some HIIT workouts may consist of 15 seconds of all-out effort, while others may last for nine minutes with moderate intensity intervals. Despite the differences in these workouts, they all share one commonality: the intervals are designed to be challenging.
The goal of HIIT is to help you achieve maximum calorie burn in a short amount of time. Workouts typically last for 30 minutes or less and can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is a timer and some space to move. HIIT is a great way to improve your speed and endurance, and it can be done with any type of cardio exercise, including running.
Reasons to try HIIT
1. It’s home-friendly – You don’t need a lot of equipment or space to do a HIIT workout. All you need is some open space to move around in. That makes HIIT workouts perfect for people who don’t have access to a gym or who don’t want to spend money on a gym membership.
2. It zaps calories – HIIT workouts are incredibly effective at burning calories. In fact, you can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time with HIIT than you can with traditional cardio. And, since HIIT workouts keep your metabolism revved up for hours after you finish working out, you’ll continue to burn calories long after your workout is over.
3. It’s time efficient – As we mentioned before, HIIT workouts are very time-efficient. You can get a great workout in a fraction of the time it would take to do a traditional cardio workout. That makes HIIT perfect for busy people who don’t have a lot of time to spare for working out.
If you’re a runner, we highly recommend adding HIIT workouts to your training regimen. They’re a great way to get in shape and improve your performance.
The benefits of HIIT for runners
HIIT can be performed with any type of activity, but it is often used with running because it is an effective way to improve speed muscle strength and endurance, increased calorie burn, and reduced risk of injury. It can also help improve your running form by teaching your body to recruit more muscle groups, including your glutes, which can help you run faster and with better form.
HIIT is also a great way to get a workout in when you don’t have a lot of time as well as a great way to improve running performance. A typical HIIT workout can be done in 30 minutes or less.
Types of HIIT Workouts for Runners
There are many different types of HIIT workouts that are well-suited for runners. Some of the most popular include:
- Interval Runs: These workouts involve alternating periods of high-intensity running with periods of active recovery.
- Fartlek Runs: Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” In a fartlek run, the runner varies the speed and intensity of their run over a set distance or time.
- Hill Repeats: This type of workout involves running up a hill at a high intensity, then jogging or walking back down to recover. Hill repeats can help improve leg strength and endurance.
- Tabata Training: Tabata is a specific type of HIIT workout that involves 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 8 rounds.
Benefits of HIIT for Runners
Incorporating HIIT into a running routine can have many benefits for runners. Some of the key benefits include:
- Improved Speed: HIIT can help improve running speed by increasing leg power and stride length.
- Increased Endurance: HIIT can also help improve endurance by training the body to better utilize oxygen and improve cardiovascular function.
- Injury Prevention: By improving overall fitness and strength, HIIT can help reduce the risk of injury for runners.
Specific HIIT Exercises and Routines for Runners
There are many different exercises and routines that can be used in a HIIT workout for runners. Some of the best include:
- Sprints: Whether done on a treadmill or outdoors, sprint intervals can help improve speed and power.
- Plyometrics: Exercises like box jumps and jump squats can help improve leg strength and power.
- Ladder Workouts: Ladder workouts involve gradually increasing the length of the high-intensity intervals and decreasing the length of the rest intervals.
- Cross-Training: Incorporating non-running exercises like cycling or rowing can help reduce the risk of injury and provide a well-rounded workout.
Incorporating HIIT into your routine
1. Get fit first:
HIIT has been shown to be an effective way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and can be done in less time than traditional endurance training. However, before you start doing HIIT, it’s important to get in shape first. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, it’s best to start with some basic fitness activities like walking or jogging. Make sure you can for at least 30 minutes at a time. Once you’ve built up your fitness level, you can start adding HIIT workouts to your routine.
HIIT is not for everyone. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is especially true if you have any medical conditions or injuries that could be aggravated by high-intensity exercise. Once you get the green light from your doctor, you can start incorporating HIIT into your running workouts.
2. Start slow:
When you first start doing HIIT, it’s important to go slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If you try to do too much too soon, you may end up overtraining or injuring yourself. Just like running, HIIT can be tough on your body, so it’s important to listen to your body and take breaks when you need to.
It’s also important to find a balance between pushing yourself hard enough to see results and not pushing yourself too hard, which can lead to injury. If you’re feeling fatigued or sore, take a break or cut back on the intensity of your workouts.
3. Focus on form:
Good form and technique are essential for any runner, but they are even more important when doing HIIT. That’s because the high-intensity effort can put a lot of strain on your body, and if your form is off, you could end up injured. So, what are some things to keep in mind when doing HIIT?
First, focus on your breathing. It’s important to keep your breathing under control during the high-intensity intervals. If you start to feel like you’re gasping for air, slow down or take a break.
Second, focus on your form. Make sure your whole body is moving in unison and that your arms and legs are working together. Third, focus on your technique. Remember to keep your feet pointed forward and your strides even.
4. Maximise Recovery:
Recovery is an important part of any runner’s training plan. Following a hard HIIT workout with a light exercise or recovery day can help maximise recovery and repair. Light exercise helps to flush out the muscles and replenish glycogen stores. Recovery days allow the body to repair any damage caused by the HIIT workout. Make sure you are also staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep each night.
5. Keep an eye on the intensity:
HIIT is meant to be done at a high intensity, so you need to make sure you’re not going too hard or too easy. One way to do that is to use a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor will help you keep track of how hard your heart is working and make sure you’re in the right intensity zone.
Traditionally, high-intensity effort is measured on a Perceived Effort scale of 7-9 out of 10, which equates to above 80% of your maximum heart rate (MHR or 220 minus your age). The point, however, is that the workout feels challenging and your heart rate drops back down during the rest period.
6. Warm up and cool down:
Be sure to warm up before you start your HIIT workout and cool down afterwards. This will help your body transition safely between the high-intensity activity and rest periods. Start with a slow jog or walk to get your muscles loose and get your heart rate up. Then, gradually increase your pace until you’re moving at a comfortable, but challenging, pace. Once you’re warmed up, it’s time to start the HIIT intervals.
Modifying HIIT for Different Fitness Levels and Medical Conditions
It’s important to remember that not all HIIT workouts are suitable for all runners. Those with medical conditions or injuries may need to modify their workouts to avoid further injury or strain. Additionally, beginners may need to start with lower intensity workouts and gradually build up to higher intensity. Some tips for modifying HIIT workouts include:
- Using low-impact exercises for those with joint issues or reduced mobility.
- Starting with lower intensity exercises and gradually increasing intensity for those with heart conditions.
- Incorporating specific modifications or alternative exercises for those recovering from injuries.
- Gradually building up the length and intensity of HIIT workouts for beginners.
Six-Week Beginner HIIT Workouts
This six-week fitness plan has been designed especially for HIIT beginners. For each workout, spend two circuits getting to grips with the moves before upping the pace.
Do each exercise for 20 seconds. Follow with a 60-second rest. Repeat the circuit 4-5 times.
- Squat with Side Lift
- Fast Feet
- Laydown Push-Up
- Plank with Wide-Arm Row
- Knee Plank
- Bent Knee Side Plank
- Alternating Lunge
- Over-the-Rope Jump
- Glute Bridge
- Bench Dip
- Plank with Wide-Arm Row
- Up & Overs
- Spider Lunges
- Plié Squat and Calf Raise
- Fast Feet
- Down-Dog Push-Up
- Upright Row
- Boat Pose
- Squat with Side Lift
- Squat Hold
- Lateral Step-Up
- 25 Punches
- Upright Row
- Bicycle Crunches
- Reverse Crunch
Do each exercise for 20 seconds. Follow with a 40-second rest. Repeat the circuit 4-5 times.
- Box Touches
- High Knees
- Up-Down Plank
- Sumo squat Row
- Russian twists
- Elbow Plank
- Lunge Jump
- Band Glute Bridge
- Bench Dip with Extended Legs
- Sumo squat Row
HIIT Workouts for Runners #1 – Bodyweight Exercise Routine
One popular HIIT workout for runners is bodyweight exercises. This routine can be done with no equipment other than your bodyweight.
The bodyweight routine is a great for runners because it is very versatile. You can do this workout indoors or outdoors. You can also do this workout at any time of day.
The bodyweight routine consists of eight exercises. These exercises are:
1. Jumping jacks
7. Jumping squats
8. Mountain climbers
Each of these exercises is to be done for 30 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. Once you have completed all eight exercises, you will have completed one set. You should aim to complete three sets of this HIIT workout.
This HIIT workout is a great way to improve your running performance. It is also a great way to burn fat. If you are looking for a workout that is both effective and efficient, HIIT for runners is the way to go.
HIIT Workouts for Runners #2 – Tabata Protocol
The Tabata Protocol is a type of HIIT workout that is perfect for runners. It involves short, intense bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest. This makes it a great workout for runners who want to improve their speed and endurance.
This HIIT workout is named after Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata, who found that this type of interval training is one of the most effective ways to improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
The Tabata Protocol has been shown to be an effective HIIT workout for runners because it helps to improve both speed and endurance.
Here’s how the Tabata Protocol works:
You will need a timer for this workout. Set it for 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Choose a running exercise that you can do for 20 seconds at a high intensity. This could be sprinting, hill sprints, or even treadmill sprints.
Start with a light jog or walk to warm up and get your heart rate up. Then, do some dynamic stretches, such as leg swings, arm swings, and butt kickers.
Once you’re warmed up, it’s time to begin your HIIT for runners workout, you will work at maximum effort for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You will do this 8 times, for a total of 4 minutes.
Make sure that you are working at your absolute maximum effort for those 20 seconds. You should be breathless and your heart should be pounding.
After the 4 minutes is up, take a 1-2 minute break, and then repeat the cycle 2-3 more times.
Once you have completed your HIIT for runners workout, it’s important to cool down. This will help your muscles to recover and prevent injury. Start by walking for 5 minutes to bring your heart rate down. Then, do some static stretches, such as hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and calf stretches. Finish up with some deep breathing exercises to help you relax.
HIIT Workouts for Runners #3 – Plyometric HIIT Workout
This workout consists of four rounds of 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. The exercises in each round are designed to help you build explosive power and improve your running economy.
The first round of this plyometric HIIT workout consists of four exercises:
1. Squat jumps
2. Lateral hops
3. Power skaters
4. High knees
For each of these exercises, you’ll want to perform as many reps as possible in the 30 second work period. Once the 30 seconds is up, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
The second round of this workout consists of four more exercises:
2. Mountain climbers
3. Jumping lunges
4. Sprinting in place
Again, aim to perform as many reps as possible of each exercise in the 30 second work period. Once the 30 seconds is up, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
The third round of this workout consists of four more exercises:
1. Squat Thrusts
4. Running in place
As before, try to perform as many reps as possible of each exercise in the 30 second work period. Once the 30 seconds is up, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
The fourth and final round of this workout consists of four more exercises:
1. Jumping jacks
2. Power cleans
3. Squat jumps
4. High knees
Once again, aim to perform as many reps as possible of each exercise in the 30 second work period. Once the 30 seconds is up, that’s it – you’re done!
This plyometric HIIT workout is a great way to improve your running performance. It will help you build explosive power and improve your running economy. Give it a try and see how it goes!
If you are a runner who is looking to improve your speed and endurance, HIIT may be a good training method for you to consider. HIIT can help you to run faster and for longer periods of time, without tiring as quickly. However, it is important to listen to your body and to not overdo it with HIIT, as it is a high-intensity form of exercise. If you are new to HIIT, it may be best to start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.